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By Joseph R. Cunningham, M.D.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a traumatic brain injury is caused by a violent blow to the head or body, or from an object passing through brain tissue, like a bullet or bone fragment. TBIs range from mild to severe, with more serious TBIs resulting in tissue damage, bruising, bleeding and physical damage to the brain. Some injuries can result in long-term complications or death; TBIs make up approximately 30 percent of all injury deaths in the US, per the CDC.
Traumatic brain injuries are common: the CDC estimates approximately 2.5 million TBI-related emergency room visits each year. Common causes include falls, vehicle accidents, sports, acts of violence, and military combat. Estimated annual TBI costs are $76.5 billion, and many TBIs are preventable.
To avoid a traumatic brain injury, it’s important to take safety seriously. While playing sports, wear the proper protective gear and avoid head-to-head or head-to-ball contact. Practice ladder safety while doing spring chores to avoid falls, and be aware of your surroundings when you’re in a deer stand, on a balcony, and near stairs. Always wear your seatbelt when traveling in a vehicle, and wear a helmet and use extreme caution when riding on ATVs, scooters and motorbikes.
If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury, no matter how mild, it is important to be seen by a doctor right away. Your physician can provide you with proper medical attention and advise you about signs or symptoms which may appear days or even weeks after a traumatic event occurs. More severe injuries may require treatment, hospitalization, and physical therapy.
Your life can change in the blink of an eye. It only takes a moment to take the necessary safety precautions to ensure you and your loved ones don’t suffer from the implications of a traumatic brain injury.
Joseph R. Cunningham, M.D. is the president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.
(For more Office Visit columns by Dr. Cunningham, visit The Journal Record.)
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